We traveled to Fort Lauderdale one day prior to our 2/21 cruise. Springhill Suites at Fort Lauderdale airport was a nice pre-cruise hotel. Beware of their complimentary transfers. They are handled independently and are rude and abrupt. Embarkation was a breeze, best of all 11 prior cruises. We were on board in less than 30 minutes. Had lunch on Lido and rooms were called promptly at 1:3pm. Lifeboat drill was quick and painless and we were soon underway.
VC cabins were very adequate. Two big drawers under the bed made unpacking very easy. Ship does have some wear but other than a little rust on balcony, everything else was spotless and extremely fresh. Cabin stewards introduced themselves immediately and addressed us by name every day. The staff on this ship is always smiling and friendly and you are made to feel "at home" for your entire cruise.
We were able to change to fixed late dining on our first night, in fact the maitre'd asked if we were interested in doing so.Seems most folks eat earlier than 7:45 and the dining room was never full. Bar staff was wonderful, ask for Walter in the Piano Bar and tell him Sir Bob says Hi. Randall is a great showman in the Piano Bar and we won two contests over the course of the cruise. Food was good, but not extraordinary.
This was our first HAL cruise and what impressed us the most was the attentiveness of the crew, the beautiful,fresh flowers everywhere, the lectures and port information and the lack of pressure to purchase drinks. Walter would seek us out just to ask if he could bring us ice water.
We also had one of our group injure himself in Aruba and when I asked at the gangway for help, the crew member who was handing our cool washcloths, proceeded to get us a wheelchair within two minutes. The infirmary staff even followed up to see how he was doing and allowed him to use their crutches for the remainder of the cruise. This personal attention will make us repeat HAL cruisers.
Our first port was Half Moon Cay and unfortunately it was cloudy and cool and although we swam, it was chilly and eventually did rain. We had the barbecue lunch and returned to the ship. A pretty island but not a pretty day.The other ports are reviewed in the port section. All in all this was a wonderful cruise, with great friends and lots of good memories,thanks to a slew of HAL employees.